December 10, 2021

๐ŸŽ‰ Happy Friday. We made it at last!

โ˜”๏ธ Today's weather: Afternoon rain with a high of 47.

๐Ÿ’ต Situational awareness: We're trying to figure out holiday tipping in Chicago and want to hear about your practices using this survey.

  • Plus, if you work in a field where people give holiday tips, please respond to this email to say what you like and don't like to get. Enough with the Starbucks cards already?

Today's newsletter is 805 words โ€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: TBOX crawls again amid surge

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

This Saturday marks the 25th anniversary of the much-loved and much-hated "12 Bars of Christmas (TBOX)," a Wrigleyville bacchanal that calls itself the "world's largest pub crawl."

Why it matters: The city denied the TBOX permit last year due to the pandemic surge, but it's relaunching Saturday amid the city's biggest surge in 11 months โ€” albeit one with about 60% as many cases as last year at this time.

What they're saying: TBOX representatives say they don't plan any additional safety precautions. Instead, they'll defer to safety protocols of the 30+ bars serving TBOX's predicted 10,000 attendees.

  • "Theyโ€™ve been having large scale events, some larger than TBOX, since summer, and this won't be different," TBOX creator Christopher Festa tells Axios, noting the event will follow local rules.

Between the lines: Even with local rules requiring masks upon entry, there will be:

  • No mask requirements for patrons "actively drinking."
  • No capacity limits.
  • No need to show vaccination records.
  • No social distancing protocols.

The other side: Chicago's Department of Business Affairs, which monitors COVID safety compliance, tells Axios it "is aware of the TBOX pub crawl" and will be "visiting all participating bars and restaurants leading up to the event on Saturday to remind them to abide by the mask mandate."

  • "Citizens are encouraged to contact 311 to report violations of the mask mandate."

If you go: TBOX tickets cost $27-40. Festa says some proceeds go to the nonprofit Lakeview East Community Partnership.

2. Jussie Smollett found guilty of most counts

Nenye Uche, defense attorney for "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett, told the media Smollett would appeal the guilty verdict. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Thursday night a Chicago jury found Jussie Smollett guilty of five counts of disorderly conduct for making false reports to police that he was a victim of a hate crime in 2019. (CNN)

Lawyer at microphone at press conference.
Special prosecutor Dan Webb speaks to the media at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building yesterday. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

3. Holiday volunteering and cheering

Volunteering opportunities through the Honeycomb Project include packing food boxes for food pantries. Photo courtesy of the Honeycomb Project

Chicago's Honeycomb Project is putting out a call for volunteers to help make beds for sheltered dogs, stock food pantries, bake cookies, sort donations and deliver meals.

Why it matters: The organization helps connect individuals and families with local groups that need labor, even for just a few hours.

  • And the holidays may afford more time for volunteering.

If volunteering is not your thing: You can also support Honeycomb volunteers through the Holiday Cheer Challenge happening this Saturday in the Loop.

If you go: Register and buy tickets ($65-$120) to:

  • Meet at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion at 2pm for snacks
  • Run all over downtown doing things like singing carols, giving thank you notes to city workers and performing scenes from the "Nutcracker."
  • Raise money for the organization in the meantime.

4. Bears fans want out of SNF

The glory days of the Bears/Packers rivalry. William "The Refrigerator" Perry scores a touchdown during the Bears victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field in 1985. Photo: Bill Smith/Getty Images

On Sunday night, the Bears travel to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers in prime time. Some Bears fans are hoping the league reconsiders.

Why it matters: The Bears (4-8) are so disappointing that fans want the NFL to take the game off primetime Sunday Night Football for fear of embarrassment. Let that sink in.

  • The NFL and NBC have the ability to flex games in and out of primetime late in the season to make sure they broadcast relevant games.

What they're saying: "The rest of the slate is meh with some lopsided matchups," writes Bears reporter Brad Biggs. "Basically, there isnโ€™t another game on the schedule that was even semi-appealing to the NFL, so the league stuck with the largest television market that has only one team โ€” Chicago."

By the numbers: Recent stats explain why Bears fans want out.

  • Since 2011, the Bears are 3-20 against the Packers.
  • Head coach Matt Nagy is 1-6 against Green Bay.
  • General manager Ryan Pace is 2-11.
  • Chairman George McCaskey is 3-18.

Stat du jour: The last time the Bears won at Lambeau Field was Thanksgiving 2015.

5. 12 days of Chicago Christmas: Trivia game

The Chicago Handshake Game issues challenges like naming the toppings on a Chicago dog and speaking in a "Super Fan" accent. Dat is so easy! Photo courtesy of Transit Tees

Today's local gift suggestion is for the Chicago know-it-all on your list โ€” one who does not have a drinking problem.

The game: Chicago Handshake usually refers to a shot of Malรถrt and a can of Old Style, but in this card game full of Chicago challenges, that drink pairing is the booby prize for the person who gets the most tokens.

Challenges include identifying:

  • Your favorite style of pizza in Chicago.
  • The significance of all four stars on the flag.
  • Local breweries or parks.

The details: A deck of 104 Chicago Handshake cards costs $20.

  • Find it at Transit Tees shops in Wicker Park and Andersonville, where they sell lots of other Chicago themed stuff, or buy the game online.

6. Tips and hot links: Lil' bites of Chicago news

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Illinois has one of the worst unemployment rates in the nation. (Chicago Tribune)

๐Ÿฆธ๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ C2E2 returns this weekend after a similar show in New York was linked to possible spread of Omicron. Two participants talked about their feelings going in with CityCast.

๐Ÿ’ฐ More fallout from the Bridgeport Bank failure: A top Streets & Sanitation official could face fraud charges. (Sun-Times)

๐Ÿ€ Will the Bulls have enough players to take on the Miami Heat tomorrow? Five Bulls (including DeMar DeRozan) could be out due to COVID-19 protocols. (NBC Sports Chicago)

Our picks:

๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿพโ€๐ŸŽ„ Monica is overwhelmed by all the new holiday entertainment around this weekend like Chicago Opera Theater's premier of "Becoming Santa Claus."

๐Ÿ’ป Justin will be going live tomorrow (virtually) for his monthly showcase of Chicago neighborhoods. This month: Bridgeport! It's called No Wristbands Required. Check it out tomorrow, 5pm on Twitch.

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